#### Looking to integrate math, science, and engineering in your classroom? Start with the science and math practices!

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering , and Math) is more than just a grouping of subject areas. It is a movement to develop deep understanding between these content areas, so students are more competitive in the 21st-century workforce. STEM helps develop a se

t of thinking, reasoning, researching, collaborating and creating skills that students can use in all areas of their lives. STEM isn’t a standalone class—it’s a way to intentionally incorporate different subjects across an existing curriculum.

But if you are new to using STEM in your classroom, or if you are a secondary math or science teacher and have never integrated the subjects before, where do you start? In my opinion, the best and easiest place to start is with the practices. Regardless of whether your curriculum is aligned to the Common Core Math Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, or neither, the practices are important processes and proficiencies that all students should be engaged in while learning and applying the content. Several of these math and science practices naturally overlap.

**What is a**

Science or Math Practice? A mathematic or scientific practice is a

behavior that mathematicians or scientists use to seek and explain answers to

questions they have about the world around them. By focusing on these

behaviors, you are enabling students to relate mathematic and scientific ideas

to real world situations and apply them in everyday life.

The

Framework for K-12 Science Education identifies eight practices of science

and engineering as “essential for all students to learn”:

1. Asking questions (for science)

and defining problems (for engineering)

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out

investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting

data

5. Using mathematics and computational

thinking

6. Constructing explanations (for

science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

7. Engaging in argument from

evidence

8.

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

**What are the**

commonalities between Math and Science?

**Let’s start**

with Science Practice #5: **Using Mathematics and Computational**

Thinking.

This practice encourages students to use mathematics and computational thinking to clarify and build relationships and models among the various representations found in mathematics, science, and engineering. Math and science are partners in critical thinking. As students observe and collect data, it is imperative for them to learn the computation and mathematical principles associated with gathering their information to understand scientific concepts. This can be through observations, measurement, recording and the processing of data. This logically brings us to Science Practice 4, which includes a heavy math content focus.

**Science Practice #4: ****Analyzing and Interpreting Data **

Once collected, data must be presented in a

form that can reveal any patterns and relationships which allows results to be

communicated to others. By collecting and analyzing data, scientists are able

to make meaning of the information they have collected. For elementary children,

this can connect to the math standards of tallying results, constructing a charts,

pictographs and bar graphs. By middle

and high school students are now relating the data to a line graph, creating an

equation of a linear function, or for bivariate data, a scatter plot with the

line of best fit. Learning to analyze and interpret data will enable students

to recognize patterns and make decisions based on these findings.

**Overlapping**

Practices: Science Practice #2:

Developing and Using Models & Math Practice #4: Model with Mathematics

Both

of these practices involve using models to problem-solve real world situations in

math and science. Many of those models

are similar, making it easier to integrate STEM in their lessons. Models are a tool for thinking and making

predictions that allow students to apply the content to solve problems arising

in everyday life, society, and the workplace.

Modelssuch as diagrams,

drawings, tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas help students to test

hypotheses and possible solutions to complicated problems.

**Overlapping Practices: Science Practice # 7: Engaging in Argument**

from Evidence & Math Practice #3: Reason

Abstractly and Quantitatively

Asking students at any age to explain their

understandings allows them to engage in critical thinking and encourages the

development of collaboration. Through the use of these practices, students will

compare alternatives, formulate

evidence based on test data, make arguments from evidence to defend their

conclusions, evaluate others’ ideas critically, and revise their designs in

order to achieve the best solution to the problem at hand. Students will learn to identify the strengths

and weaknesses of a line of reasoning and seek out the best explanation for a

natural phenomenon. Students will explain and

defend their position based on the results of an experiment and data

collected. They justify their conclusions,

communicate them to others, and respond to the questions or arguments of their

peers. Through these practices, a common science and

math language can be developed by integrating appropriate content

vocabulary.

Regardless of the entry point, the very nature of STEM is engagement. When

the focus is on the design,

application, and integration of various pieces—which frequently

involve a dose of hands-on maker project-based learning—learners natural

curiosity is ignited.

For more detailed information on the science and math practices , see these websites:

Math:

CCSS

Standards for Mathematical Practice: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice/

Math

Practices with Video Examples: http://www.insidemathematics.org/common-core-resources/mathematical-practice-standards

Math

Practices Progression Through Grade Levels:

http://www.k12.wa.us/corestandards/pubdocs/mpbygradelevel.pdf

Science:

NGSS

at NSTA: https://ngss.nsta.org/PracticesFull.aspx

A

Framework for K-12 Science Education: https://www.nap.edu/read/13165/chapter/7#44